West Africa bloc deploys stabilizing force to Guinea-Bissau

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court signage and logo is pictured in Abuja, Nigeria February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

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BISSAU, June 20 (Reuters) - West Africa's regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deployed troops to Guinea-Bissau on Monday to help stabilize the country after a failed coup earlier this year.

The 15-nation bloc announced in February that it would deploy the force, a few days after President Umaru Sissoco Embalo survived what he called an assassination attempt by drug traffickers. read more

"We thank ECOWAS heads of state for their... solidarity at a time when Bissau was grappling with upheavals linked to several attempts to subvert constitutional and democratic order," Defence Minister Marciano Silva Barbeiro said at an inauguration ceremony in the capital Bissau.

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The 631 troops will help local forces protect public officials, institutions and civilians.

Guinea-Bissau has seen 10 coups or attempted coups since it gained independence from Portugal in 1974.

The tiny former Portuguese colony on the coast of West Africa is known as a major transit point for Latin American cocaine headed for Europe.

ECOWAS deployed a similar mission from 2012 to 2020 after another coup, to help deter the military from intervening in politics and protect political leaders.

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Reporting by Alberto Dabo; writing by Nellie Peyton; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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